Remembering past fights, Condit wants rematch with Woodley

LAS VEGAS -

Of the 16,000 or so people packed into the MGM Grand Arena on Saturday night, nobody might have had quite the perspective on the card’s top-two fights as Carlos Condit.

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The welterweight veteran has, after all, faced off in the octagon against Nick Diaz, who fought Anderson Silva at UFC 183, and Tyron Woodley, who took on Kelvin Gastelum on Saturday.

Memories of his fights against the two brawlers elicit very different responses for Condit.

Against Diaz, the Albuquerque fighter earned perhaps the signature win of his career, winning the interim welterweight belt with a unanimous decision win at UFC 143.

Against Woodley at UFC 171, though, Condit suffered a devastating knee injury that resulted in surgery and sidelined him for a year.

With a return to the octagon planned for May, Condit was hesitant to reveal his preferred opponent, but said he wouldn’t complain about a rematch with Woodley.

“I called Dana the next morning and told him I wanted a rematch,” said Condit, who admitted that losing due to a knee injury had been a tough pill to swallow. “This is a combat sport… the longer you do this thing, you’re bound to get some sort of injury.”

If his fight with Woodley is defined by disappointment, his five-round war with Diaz is one he’s happy to reflect on.

Preparing for the hard-hitting Diaz was a rollercoaster, and the Californian’s unpredictability in the octagon is something Condit believed could cause Silva trouble on Saturday night.

“Training for him was interesting because I had to switch up what I do, because he’s such an interesting style,” Condit said. “There had been a lot of change-ups. He was supposed to fight GSP, then I was supposed to fight GSP and GSP got hurt… it was an emotional rollercoaster.”

With a return date set for May 23 at UFC 187 in Vegas, Condit is set to re-enter a welterweight division that barely resembles the weight-class that was dominated by St-Pierre for so long.

With Robbie Lawler being crowned champion in December and former title holder Johny Hendricks set to face off with fellow contender Matt Brown in Dallas at UFC 185 in March, guys like Woodley and No. 1-contender Rory MacDonald may be forced to continue proving their credentials for some time.

Condit is still ranked No. 4 in the division and isn’t sure where he fits, but he knows exactly who he believes has been the best welterweight in the time since he was sidelined.

“Rory,” said Condit, referring to the ascendent Canadian. “Rory looks really good. His last fights have been pretty much flawless.”

DJ SPEAKS ON LINEKER

John Lineker missed weight on Friday, and the man he could be fighting next had some harsh words about it.

“It’s a s--- show,” said UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. “You can’t deny that the man is skilled, he has hard-hands and he knocks people out but it’s very unfortunate, he’s only hindering his skill.

“A lot of people said to me ‘He’s messing it up for you’ and you know, he’s messing up my pocketbook.”

Lineker beat No. 3-ranked Ian McCall on the preliminary card at UFC 183, potentially setting up a bout for the flyweight title with Johnson. It’s unclear how the missed-weight will affect that, though, although he was already fined 30% of his purse for coming in 4 lbs. over the non-title-fight flyweight limit.

VANZANT UNCONCERNED

Paige VanZant took some heat from some of her fellow women’s strawweight contenders for saying the UFC had set her up to fight against Felice Herrig because the two women were “hot.”

For some, it was a refreshing piece of honesty and self-awareness from a 20-year-old whose place in the spotlight has undoubtedly been more pronounced due to her looks.

For others, including Joanne Calderwood, it wasn’t quite so endearing.

If it bugs her rivals, VanZant doesn’t seem to care.

“I think me and (Herrig) will always be perceived that way... we were born this way and it’s nothing we can change,” the Nevada native said. “I’m going to go out there and prove I’m not just a pretty face.

“I’m too strong for the (haters) to shake me.”

TATE ANSWERS MCMANN

For a round and a half, Miesha Tate had no answer for Sara McMann.

Then, she reversed a takedown from the former Olympian - who’s widely considered to be the best wrestler in the women’s bantamweight division - and dominated the rest of the way.

It was as impressive a result as fight fans have seen from Tate, who’s ranked as the No. 2-contender in the division but has found herself in no-woman’s land since losing twice to champion Ronda Rousey.

In the first round, Tate was caught by an inch-perfect right-hand from McMann and then spent most of the rest of the frame on her back, struggling to survive.

“(I was hurt) pretty bad,” Tate said. “Honestly I knew I had to hang on for dear life. I knew if she hit me again I would have been done.”

The second round was mostly defined by quick exchanges between the fighters, and again McMann looked more crisp. With less than two minutes left, though, the two fighters hit the canvas and Tate scrambled to put McMann in a guillotine.

Suddenly, she was in complete control and was fighting to finish the fight. McMann was saved by the bell, but a fight where Tate had looked largely outclassed was suddenly awfully close.

“If I had 10 seconds more... I finally cleared her arm and then the time ran out,” Tate said.

While the near-finish was impressive, the third round was the standout for Tate.

While wrestling was supposed to be McMann’s big advantage, Tate showed remarkable composure on the ground and out-grappled her opponent from start to finish to earn herself the majority decision (29-28, 29-27, 28-28).

“You know, she almost had that takedown, but you can’t give it up,” Tate said. “Whoever wound up on top (was gonna win the round).”

The question now is what’s next for Tate. She’s won three in a row since losing to Rousey at UFC 168, and two of those wins have come against fellow top contenders -- McMann and Liz Carmouche.

Assuming Rousey beats Cat Zingano at UFC 184 at the end of February in Los Angeles, Tate would surely be the next challenger for the women’s bantamweight crown in normal circumstances.

Unfortunately, as Tate herself acknowledges, there aren’t many fans clamouring to see her fight Rousey for a third time after two lopsided losses. That likely means she’ll need to fight at least once more, and the most likely opponent would be undefeated Brazilian Bethe Correia.

PATIENT BRUNSON

Derek Brunson promised himself he was going to be patient in his fight against Ed Herman.

Technically, he put his plan into action.

It’s just that he only needed to be patient for 36 seconds before an opportunity presented itself and he found himself standing with his arms raised in the middle of the octagon.

It was a stunning finish for Brunson, who became the fourth fighter in UFC history with both a submission and a striking finish within the first minute of one of their fights.

“It’s been a long camp and that’s what we were working on the whole time, just being patient,” said Brunson, a former college wrestling standout at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. “I was just trying to change my mentality of going for a takedown really fast.

“I’m just trying to keep getting better and improve.”

The win improved Brunson to 4-1 in his UFC career, and could be enough to push him into the top-15. Don’t expect the affable North Carolina native to start talking trash all of a sudden.

It’s simply not in his character.

“I’m not a jerk, I’m not an a-hole, I don’t even know why I fight because I’m a nice guy,” Brunson said. “I want to beat everybody up, I want to win, I want to keep getting better.”



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